It’s always tricky to navigate relationships with coworkers, especially when you become friends with someone you work with. While it can be nice to have a friend at work, there are also potential downsides to consider.
For example, if you have a falling out, it can be difficult to continue working together. Alternatively, your friendship may impact how you’re perceived by other colleagues, etc. So, if you’re looking to distance yourself from a coworker friend we’d encourage you to do just that by following the steps below to skip all the drama and conflict.
Steps to distance yourself from a coworker friend:
1- Spend less time together or interacting outside of work:
First, try spending less time socializing during work hours. Instead of meeting up for lunch or coffee breaks, focus on getting your work done. You can also try being less available outside of work; if your friend always asks you to grab drinks after work, start saying no more frequently.
If your friend happens to have your phone number or pester you outside of work for reasons that are not work-related, then it’s time to ignore them a little.
You can start by trying to spend less time interacting outside of work. This means saying no to any type of meeting or friendly and nosy interactions outside of your professional relationship. You don’t need to completely cut off communication straight away, but it’s important to create some distance gradually.
2- Don’t let them step all over you:
Also, don’t hesitate to speak up if your friend is crossing any boundaries; for example, if they’re sharing too much personal information or being overly critical of your character, lifestyle life choices, or anything else.
In this case, it will be good to make it clear in a kind and nice way that their opinion isn’t welcome or that people are free to be different and have different life philosophies, choices, and preferences. By taking these steps, you can help to force and impose respect rather than brush off behavior that could easily turn into bullying.
3- Choose communication and honesty:
Try to be honest with your friend about how you feel they have offended you if they did. This way if it’s something unforgivable and you still decide to cut them off despite an apology then they’d understand deep down what happened. So when you start to ignore their calls and texts outside of work; they will know the reason rather than be confused and pester you more for an explanation.
If what they did wrong was a one-time occurrence, it’s possible they’re feeling awkward too and will be relieved to hear you bring it up to clear the air. It’s also possible that you can recover from it in this case, without needing to build permanent walls, boundaries, and cold distance between you two which can be uncomfortable at work. Especially if you have been close friends outside of work for some time now.
In the end, if communication doesn’t work as you hoped and if you don’t get a proper apology then don’t feel guilty about your decision. You have the right to set boundaries in your relationships, and ultimately, if creating distance is best for both of you then be it!
4- Don’t overshare or talk about your personal life at work:
Avoid getting too personal. When you’re chatting with a coworker friend, stick to topics that are appropriate for the workplace. steer clear of sharing anything too intimate or personal.
In fact, it will also be wise not to gossip. Gossiping is one of the quickest ways to damage a friendship, create drama and become the topic of discussion in some way or another at work which can quickly turn into a nightmare. If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, it’s best to keep your thoughts to yourself.
So, make sure you’re both on the same page about how much time you spend together outside of work and what kinds of things you’re comfortable talking about.
Keep things casual. Coworker friendships are different from other kinds of friendships and they can impact or affect negatively your butter and bread when things take the wrong turn. Accept that the more you provide colleagues with a window to take a look into your personal life the more the line between work and your personal life will be blurred.
And, you can only have yourself to blame for tolerating so little privacy or having everyone secretly discuss your dating life at work. Before you know it, if you don’t play your cards right you may find everyone at work looking at you weird and judging you secretly for your own personal decisions.
5- Keep things formal:
It can be easy to let your guard down around a coworker friend. After all, you see each other every day and have developed a rapport. However, it’s important to keep things formal at work, all the time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be friendly, but you should avoid showing any unprofessional side of yourself.
You shouldn’t share confidential information or your real and strong opinions about specific subjects of life nor discuss sensitive topics. Remember, your relationship with a coworker friend is different from your relationship with a true friend. So keep things professional and you’ll maintain a healthy working environment.
They don’t need to agree with your spiritual beliefs, life goals, or priorities in life; remember you’re not going to marry them. You barely need to get along well enough to enable a safe and healthy work environment.
So if they start oversharing personal information with you or sharing a strong opinion of theirs that you disagree with, keep your cool and use one of these tactics to get them to understand that you’re not interested.